8th Grade Students Step Up
The 8th grade students, rather than having "classroom guidance counseling," participate in a class called Step Up. The 8th grade class is divided into a girls section and a boys section; each group meets once a week for a full class period. The 8th grade year is an important stepping stone as students begin preparing for high school. Mrs. Headrick, PreK-8 counselor, uses the Sean Covey book, The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make, as the curriculum for this class during the first semester of the 8th grade year. The students cover the following chapters:
1. School - Students are encouraged to take school seriously at all levels because education is a key to opening doors of opportunity. There is a fairly big emphasis on simply finishing high school and why that is so important.
2. Friends - Students are reminded in this chapter to choose their friends carefully. Students are encouraged not to be "friend-centered" because that leads to unhealthy peer pressure and the need to compare with and compete with their friends. Instead, kids reading this book are encouraged to be "principle-centered"--to be themselves and true to those values they hold important. Friendships, then, will fall into place.
3. Parents - Students are encouraged to seek their parents' advice and learned strategies to get along better with their parents. They learn about something called a "Relationship Bank Account,' which is basically a way to view the relationship kids have with their parents (and others for that matter) and that every relationship should be a give and take relationship. Students should contribute as much as they take from their relationship with their parents.
4. Dating and Sex - This is probably one of the most critical decisions kids have to make. The great part about this book is that it takes neither a political nor religious approach to this topic. Instead, in regard to dating, the book encourages "intelligent dating" and teaches that kids should set boundaries for themselves and for their dates. In regard to sex, the book debunks several myths that many teens probably think are true.
*Myth: Everyone's doing it. Fact: Everyone's NOT doing it.
*Myth: Your sex drive is so strong, you can't control it. Fact: You CAN control your urges.
*Myth: Safe sex is safe. Fact: There's no such thing as safe sex! (Only "safer sex")
*Myth: It's no big deal. Fact: Sex is a really big deal and should be treated as such.
Covey also discusses the Love Waits movement and teaches kids that there are other ways of expressing love than with one's body.
5 and 6: There are two additional chapters in this book. One deals with the pressures and dangers of addictions and the other addresses self-worth and the need to develop a positive sense of self. That makes all the other decisions that kids have to face just a little easier.
Parents are encouraged to read the book along with their kids. Often times, the book provides a discussion prompt for kids and parents.
Then, during 2nd semester, the 8th grade students dig into career exploration and transition-to-high school activities.